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NASCAR at Texas 2014 Results: Race Order, Final Times and Twitter Reaction

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 1, 2014

Matt Kenseth waves in Victory Lane after taking the pole position for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Texas 500 auto race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, Friday, Oct. 31, 2014. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
LM Otero/Associated Press

Matt Kenseth remains in the hunt for the 2014 Sprint Cup title, and he put himself in great position for this Sunday's AAA Texas 500.

The No. 20 car took home the pole on Friday at the Texas Motor Speedway, which is Kenseth's second of the season. The race track shared the victory via Twitter:

Texas Motor Speedway @TXMotorSpeedway

Matt Kenseth takes the Pinnacle Propane Qualifying pole award for #AAATX500! http://t.co/TWzW4LVy10

Heading into the race, Kenseth sits fourth in the standings. If that remains true after the Quicken Loans Race For Heroes 500, he'll be through to the Championship Round, but only just. The top four drivers in the standings advance, with those sitting fifth through eighth axed from contention.

Winning the pole at this stage in the season is huge for Kenseth to retain his top-four place. He wouldn't want to watch all of his hard work be undone with only a race or two left in the season.

Kenseth knows exactly how important these final weeks are after wrecking Kevin Harvick during last week's Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500. Harvick's championship chances suffered what will likely be irreparable damage after he finished 33rd.

brightcove.com/?flashVars='videoId=3859885836001

Harvick had some choice words for Kenseth after the race.

"Yeah, he won't win this championship," he said, per Zack Albert of NASCAR.com. "If we don't, he won't."

After qualifying, Kenseth was remorseful for his role in the accident, per USA Today's Jeff Gluck:

I don't think it's something I'll ever feel better about. The only way I'll probably feel a little better about it or whatever is if he makes it to Homestead, because if he doesn't win a championship, at least it wasn't because of my stupid mistake. But until then, I don't know how much better I'll feel about it.

Harvick, on the other hand, remains indignant, per his comments, courtesy of Gluck:

Jeff Gluck @jeff_gluck

Matt Kenseth story updated with Kevin Harvick quote after qualifying. Does KH still feel the same way? "Absolutely." http://t.co/g4SFHlkAym

That storyline only adds to the drama for Sunday. Given what's at stake, the race promises to be nerve-wracking from start to finish.

As for the other drivers, you can see the top 10 qualifiers from Friday below. The full running order is available at NASCAR.com.

AAA Texas 500 Qualifying Results
Pos.DriverBest SpeedBest Time
1Matt Kenseth199.29927.095
2Jeff Gordon199.29127.096
3Jimmie Johnson198.98327.138
4Kurt Busch198.91027.148
5Kevin Harvick198.83627.158
6Tony Stewart198.50827.203
7Ryan Newman198.50027.204
8Martin Truex Jr.198.39827.218
9Kyle Busch198.33327.227
10Joey Logano198.07127.263
NASCAR.com

Kenseth might have gotten the pole, but Tony Stewart made history. Stewart broke the track record at Texas, topping out at 200.111 miles per hour, according to NASCAR on ESPN:

Hermie Sadler tweeted that he thought 200 mph was unachievable at Texas:

Hermie Sadler @HermieSadler

Ole @TonyStewart ran over 200 mph average speed here at Texas. Didn't think id ever see that. http://t.co/1tD2i2jSfn

Since he's a complete non-factor in the Chase, Stewart's accomplishment was overshadowed a bit by how each of the eight remaining Chase drivers finished. Gluck made it easy for everybody, posting their respective starting positions:

Jeff Gluck @jeff_gluck

Chase driver starting spots at Texas: 1. Kenseth 2. Gordon 5. Harvick 7. Newman 10. Logano 11. Edwards 20. Hamlin 26. Keselowski

Jeff Gordon will feel unlucky. He missed out on the pole by a mere 0.001 seconds after posting a time of 27.096 seconds and a top speed of 199.291 miles per hour. Gordon is first in the standings, but the difference between first and fifth is only seven points.

The problem for Gordon is that he's never had much success in Texas. According to DriverAverages.com, it's his most difficult track. He owns one win and nine top-five finishes in 27 appearances and has finished with an average of 17.22.

The drivers in the most danger after qualifying are Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski, who will start 20th and 26th, respectively. They were the only two Chase drivers who didn't make the final round, per Tom Jensen of FoxSports.com:

Tom Jensen @tomjensen100

To recap, @dennyhamlin (20th) and @keselowski (26th) only 2 of Chase drivers not to make final round of Cup quals @TXMotorSpeedway

Hamlin's in fifth place, so he's not in full panic mode just yet, but Keselowski's down in seventh place, 24 points off Hamlin. He can't afford to have a poor showing on Sunday. Unfortunately for him, only four drivers have won in Texas after starting lower than 20th, per NASCAR Stats:

NASCAR Alerts @NASCAR_Alerts

Brad Keselowski will start 26th. Only 4 of the 27 races at Texas were won from a starting position outside the top 20. #NASCAR

One more race after the AAA Texas 500 remains before the Championship Round begins. The drivers near the cutoff line will be feeling the pressure this weekend. A bad day won't extinguish their title chances completely, but nobody wants to go into next week having to make up double digits in order to finish in the top four.

NASCAR wanted to add some more drama to the final stretch of the season, and that's exactly what it's done with the new Chase structure.

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